Simon Kerrigan: Bowler looking to turn the tables after last year's ordeal

England need a spinner but will they pick left-armer again after he was mauled by the Australians in the final Test of last summer? Stephen Brenkley finds him in upbeat mood

England are searching desperately, frantically for a spinner. There are three weeks before the first Test of the summer and the selectors are still weighing their options about who should succeed Graeme Swann – a part-timer, another off-breaker, a slow left-armer, a mystery spinner if only there were one.

There are plenty of options, which in a way merely emphasises the paucity. The man who played in England's last home Test match and is therefore technically still in possession in this country is Simon Kerrigan. He was a surprising choice to play in the fifth Test of the Ashes last summer and about 15 minutes after his initial involvement he seemed staggering.

As soon as Kerrigan took the ball that morning to bowl to Shane Watson there was an ominous feel to proceedings. Kerrigan looked tiny against the booming Australian giant at the other end. The history of David and Goliath provided cause for English hope but only for about three balls.

Watson came at Kerrigan and Kerrigan had no answer. A full toss was followed by a long hop. From his first two overs in Test cricket, 28 runs accrued. Six of the balls were struck for four. The ball cracked off Watson's bat. From putting his faith in Kerrigan as early as the 21st over of the match, his captain Alastair Cook could hardly bowl him thereafter.

In total Kerrigan bowled eight overs for 53 – he did not bowl in the second innings as Australia looked for quick runs and a declaration – and, one mournful shout for lbw apart, he never remotely threatened. It is pleasing to report he seems fully recovered. He is ready for more.

"No doubt about it, for the three or four weeks after, I was devastated," he said, recalling the occasion. "It's what you dream of doing and it couldn't have gone much worse than it did unless I'd got a first-baller or dropped a few catches. You process it a bit, your mind gets to a more level state, you get over the devastated feeling a bit and learn lessons from it."

It is easy to say that the selectors made a mistake by picking Kerrigan for what was his first match at The Kia Oval. It was plain for all to see. They did not fail because he was not up to the job – which he was not – but because he was not in form.

In the weeks before the match, Kerrigan, comfortably the leading English spin bowler in the Championship in the past two seasons, had been struggling for rhythm. His action was not exactly falling apart but bad habits had crept in, which meant a rampant Australian with points of his own to prove was never likely to be threatened.

"My head was a little bit scrambled when I went into the Test match because of the couple of weeks before," he said. "I still knew that even when I'm not at my best I can still get wickets. Even though I had doubts – but I guess everyone has doubts when you go on to a new stage – I had confidence in myself because I had always found a way when I had been out of rhythm before.

"It was just the way it came about, a combination of circumstances, a perfect storm. I could have easily bowled at Chris Rogers for my first three overs, bowled straight with a leg-side field, got a few singles and found my rhythm. But what happened was that I bowled one ball at him and I couldn't get Watson off strike. I knew he was always going to go hard at me, but I couldn't manufacture the circumstance. I'm sure if I went there again I would have a better way to go about it."

Kerrigan spent the early part of the winter working on the flaws in his action with Peter Moores, then the Lancashire coach and now with England, and John Stanworth, the county academy director. It entailed putting more impetus into his run and changing the position of his back foot.

He followed that by going on the England Lions tour of Sri Lanka, where he finished as joint leading wicket-taker and bowled with real purpose in the third of the three A Tests. It made him feel much better about life.

Were Kerrigan not to be given another opportunity it would be a harsh judgement on a slow left-arm spinner who was 25 earlier this month.

Whether now is the time for him to be recalled may be doubtful but if England think he is their man – and Moores will know him better than any other coach in the land after being with him throughout his county career – it might be wiser to include him sooner rather than expect him to do the business immediately when Australia are in town again next year.

Kerrigan is hardly the beau idéal of a left-arm spinner, being around 5ft 9in with short fingers. But he has guile, aggression, can turn the ball and uses his wrist to garner action. He became a spinner partly out of necessity when the swing disappeared from his medium-pace trundlers as a 16-year-old.

It seems hard to equate the assured individual doing the talking at Liverpool Cricket Club in Aigburth with the apparently diffident soul who was plundered so mercilessly by Watson. Perhaps it is because a beautifully sunny day always puts the assertiveness into a spinner's soul, perhaps because it was at Aigburth where Lancashire did so much in 2011 to win their first County Championship title in 77 years and where Kerrigan took his career-best 9 for 51 to give them a crucial win in their penultimate match. He has had a steady start to this summer.

"There is a shortage of spinners," he said. "England have got to pick the right person, they have got to have faith in the person they're picking. I would like it to be me and I've got to prove that to the selectors."

Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Life and Style
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum